A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
About two years ago I started writing a blog that no one ever saw. No one apart from my wife at least. It was about all sorts of nonsense that all sorts of people already wrote about all the time. I knew that but still she was very encouraging.
“I’m so pleased you’ve started a blog, Benji. This could be your thing.”
She really wanted me to have ‘a thing’. She was so driven and had lots of ‘things’. What’s more, she never made of secret of the fact that she was worried about marrying a focused, driven, slim, young guy who might one day turn into a sluggish, self-satisfied, old, fat guy.
“I think it’s great that you’ve got a new hobby.”
Condescending but only to make me laugh. Always acting like her friends (who found her hilarious) were in the room with us to hear the gags.
But one thing’s for sure. She really wanted me to start a blog. She really wanted me to write. I wrote several distinctly average posts but from her reaction you’d have thought I’d published the third testament. She couldn’t have been more encouraging in life.
Then two months after she died a really good friend came round to our place to play with my son. He’d started a blog to chart his progress in training for the London marathon and I told him that I was thinking of starting my own. He appreciated why immediately.
“Do it!” is all he said.
And so I did. And I’ve talked at length about all the reasons why. But to be honest I guess I’m really doing it for my wife. Apart from all of the crying and the misery I know she’d really love the man that I am now. Sadly, I’ve never tried harder to please her than I have since she died. But perhaps that’s how we honour the dead. It’s something I see the other widows and widowers who I’ve met since Desreen died doing every day.
The blog itself was the reason I was invited to attend an event last night, a ceremony that recognises achievement in parent blogging. I was flattered to be asked but also felt a bit weird about the whole thing. The idea of walking into a huge room predominantly occupied with happy mums filled me with dread. And it was even harder than I imagined.
“Love you, Mummy!” I heard one child shout again and again as he was handed over to his daddy.
I felt like a recovering alcoholic who had just landed in Napa Valley for a two week holiday. Uncomfortable, irritable and wholly out of place.
But I was there for a reason. My blog was nominated for an award. An accolade which, in itself, meant very little to me. But one that I understood could help the blog reach more people, win or lose. It won and lots more people have visited the site since. So in effect it won twice.
But I guess the real personal win for me was knowing that my wife would be so proud. Knowing that she was the reason why I started writing. Without her in life I wouldn’t have had the drive. Without her in death I’d never have had the subject matter. So thinking about it I wish this blog didn’t exist. I wish I hadn’t been invited to last night’s event. And I wish I hadn’t won an award. But I’ve done it all to honour her and to try to make sure her completely unnecessary death isn’t entirely in vain.
I love you, Dessie. You still give me my drive and you still make me laugh x